Kemi Olaitan reports that for civil servants in Oyo State, it is a new dawn as Governor Seyi Makinde has announced new policies that will make life more comfortable for them
When workers in the employ of the Oyo State government on Wednesday left their offices and filled the car park of the Governor’s Office, State Secretariat, Ibadan, for an interactive session with Governor Seyi Makinde, nothing in their imagination told them of the goodies awaiting them from a governor who has come to see the welfare of workers in the pace setter state as one of the top priorities of the administration, which only recently celebrated its 100 days in office.
Notwithstanding, the workers were already elated to be at the venue for the governor given what he has done for them in over three months since assumed the leadership of the state. They could not but smile and exchange banters among themselves as they patiently awaited the arrival of the governor and other top government officials.
Setting the tone for what to expect, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, while welcoming the workers to the interactive session, thanked them for their cooperation with the administration so far, adding, however, that they should do more. According to her, the state government appreciates that without the workers, the administration cannot achieve its set goals to take the state to the level of which it would become a source of emulation by other states in the country. She noted that at all times, the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde, would do everything humanly possible to make workers in the state have a new lease of life.
The state Head of Service (HoS), Mrs. Alolade Agboola, made the ecstatic crowd of workers to be on their feet cheering Governor Makinde, when she told them that the governor has increased the car loan to civil servants from N500,000 to N750,000 and the housing loan from N2 million to N3 million in order to assist civil servants in the state.
She also disclosed that the governor had approved a monthly grant of N20 million for car loan for the state workers; N15 million as car loan for Teaching Service Commission staffers and N20 million for housing loan to ensure that more civil servants benefit from the schemes.
She however charged the workers to be more committed to their duties and shun any activity that could tarnish the image of the service and their families in general.
She said: “This is the time for us to be rededicated to our duties. Truancy, lateness to work, disloyalty to the government, embezzlement, hobnobbing and other improper conducts will not be condoned and anyone found culpable of such acts should be ready to face the wrath of the law.”
The Oyo State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Bayo Titilola-Sodo, on his part, lauded the governor for showing commitment to workers’ welfare since assuming office. Titilola-Sodo, while making reference to the prompt payment of salaries and pensions on or before 25th of every month, however, called on Makinde to consider filling of vacancies in ministries and agencies, fulfill his campaign promises on training and retraining and resolve pending matters on transfers and conversion of workers in the state.
The governor, accompanied to the event by his wife, and whose speech was intermittently applauded by the workers singing his praises, said the wage bill of workers in the state increased by N1 billion, shortly after the governorship election of March 9, 2019.
According to him, “between March 10 when we were declared the winner of the election and May 29 when we eventually got into office, the salary bill of Oyo State increased by N1billion but we paid it and some questions are being asked. We promised oneness and, for us, that is the path we are going to continue to tread on.”
Makinde however, maintained that despite the N1 billion increase, his government had been paying the wage bill, declaring that the government would embark on a verification of workers in the state to ensure that the payroll is not suspicious.
While calling for the cooperation and involvement of workers to carry out the verification within the shortest period of time in order to free up some funds that can make the government execute some of the things workers were asking for such as training and retraining, he stated that his administration remained committed to the welfare of workers in the state because as a son of former civil servants, he was fully aware that workers need the support and assistance of the state government to do good things.
He said, “The not-so-good news, which will be good in the end is that, we have to carry out a verification exercise. This is not to witch-hunt anybody but to convince ourselves that we don’t have fraud in our payroll system. If we are able to save money through that exercise, we can also utilise growth to take care of the welfare of the workers and use the rest for the generality of the people of Oyo State.
“So, I want to solicit for your cooperation, involvement and support to carry this out within the shortest period of time. This exercise will free us some money that can make us do some of the things you are asking for; by training, both local and foreign. So, I am assuming I will have your support concerning the issue of the payroll.
“The federal allocation is a little short of N5billion naira but the salary is N5.1 to N5.2billion naira for the state workers in Oyo State. For the local government teachers and others, it is about N3billion naira. On a monthly basis, we have to look for N8billion naira to make payment for the salaries.The good news is, one, the Federal Allocation into the local government is around N5billion as well and they are paying N3billion for the teachers, workers, traditional rulers and it all comes to about N3.2billion or thereabout. So, the good news is that the local government, at this point, is able to cover their wage bill.
“Also, the good news since when we came in is, we have not embarked on any serious capital project at the local level because there is still turn-in to sort out that level of governance. With the extra N2billion we get on a monthly basis, we must have accumulated N8billion sitting in the local government account.The internally generated revenue (IGR) is about N2billion. We do take from the IGR to augment salaries. Of course, we have to do things for the generality of the people of Oyo State. We have to carry all the capital projects. We also have to do things that will expand our economy to make our IGR go on.”
Makinde was however quick to call on the civil servants to be open to challenges and to move in the same direction with his government, adding that “though we have made little progress, we are not satisfied. For us, those are marginal but if we all can work together we can really make giant progress. The political office holders cannot do it alone. If we have your support, we can together to achieve the desired result”.
He also warned those seeking to divide the people of the state along religious lines, saying, “governance for us is beyond politics or religion. Nobody under my watch will be discriminated against because of political leaning or religion. So, those who want to divide us with political or religion sentiment should find another work to do.”
Makinde while also responding to demands from the NLC Chairman and workers, said his government would remain open to workers in the state, disclosing that a dedicated phone line would be given to workers to interact with him 24/7.
One of the workers, who simply identified herself as Mrs. Kehinde Adebisi, expressed appreciation to Makinde, most especially for the increment in the car and housing loans to civil servants in the state. According to her, it is only a leader with humane heart that will do what he did, stating that workers in the state owe it a duty to work more for the progress of the pacesetter state.
“Governor Makinde deserves the appreciation of workers in the state, since his assumption of office he has continued to see to the welfare of workers. With this new increment, I have no doubt in my mind that it will make us to be dedicated to our duty and contribute our quota to the development of the state”, she said.